Does My Child With Asthma Need a Flu Vaccine?
Influenza “the flu” is a contagious respiratory virus that attacks the upper and lower respiratory tract. Influenza can cause mild to severe symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. Asthma is a risk factor for developing severe complications from the flu including an asthma attack, pneumonia, and respiratory distress requiring hospitalization. Children are more likely to get sick from the flu, with those under 5 years of age higher risk for complications. The influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older to protect against severe illness with influenza virus. Yes, that means you and your child with asthma should get the flu vaccine this year. The injectable flu vaccine or flu shot is safe and effective for children 6 months of age and older. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for children 2 to 4 years of age who have asthma or a history of wheezing in the past 12 months. If your child is younger than 6 months, you should obtain the flu vaccine to protect your infant from infection.
You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Mild cold symptoms after the flu vaccine are likely your body responding to the vaccine. Sometimes you may have been exposed to the flu or another virus before you got your flu vaccine.
There are two major flu viruses, influenza A and influenza B. Every year there are small changes in the surface proteins of the influenza virus. The flu vaccine targets these surface proteins. A new flu vaccine is manufactured each year with the 3-4 influenza virus strains predicted to be circulating in the upcoming year. That is why you need to get a new flu vaccine every Fall and Winter when the flu season starts. The benefits of taking flu vaccine are clear, you can reduce the risk of having to go the doctor by 40-60 percent and reduce hospitalization risk for children. When you get the flu vaccine you protect those around you. Make sure you speak with your doctor about which flu vaccine is best. There are several available on the market. This year more than ever a flu vaccine is important for kids with asthma to protect against serious complications from the flu that may make children more susceptible to COVID-19.